Dog Bite | Animal Behavior Expert Witness For Attorneys

Richard H. Polsky, Ph.D. CDBC
Los Angeles, California

“Bringing the science of animal behavior to attorneys”

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Amazon driver killed by German Shepherd & English mastiff

German shepherds generally are a territorial protective type dog and in concert with other protective type breeds, home delivery people are at risk of being bitten and severely injured, or even killed, when making deliveries to residential properties.

Amazon delivery divers making home deliveries to residential customers are at high-risk of being attacked and bitten by a territorial aggressive dog.

Despite this danger, those making policies regarding worker safety Amazon –  one of the most profitable companies in the world – may not take this risk to the delivery people as seriously as they should. Specifically, it appears that Amazon downplays or ignores this risk altogether, as demonstrated in other lawsuits in which I served as an expert witness and which Amazon was a defendant.[1]I reviewed policy documents and training manuals provided to Amazon drivers by the company. I formed the opinion that the company showed little concern in protecting their drivers from dog attacks. … Continue reading

Further evidence of possible lack of concern by Amazon

The possible lack of concern Amazon has for its delivery drivers is illustrated through a recent incident in which an Amazon driver was killed by a group of two dogs, a German Shepherd and an English mastiff.[2]The two dogs involved were identified as a German Shepherd and English mastiff. However, the accuracy of the breed identification raises questions. For example,  dogs who are not German shepherds … Continue reading The incident happened in October 2022 in Excelsior Springs, Missouri.

According to news reports on the Internet, police were alerted by neighbors that a Amazon van had been parked in front of the subject residence for unusually long period of time.  When the police arrived on the scene, the Amazon driver, a man who appeared to be in his early 50s, was found dead on the front lawn with bite wounds on his body. Police were also confronted by the two dogs, one of which was acting aggressively. The police shot and killed both dogs. The homeowner was out of town at the time of the incident (assumedly the owners of the dogs). Hence, the likelihood that the dogs were not under sufficient control when the incident happened.

Animal behavior analysis

Animal behavior analysis of what happened here is straightforward: An unfamiliar individual, possibly in uniform, entering the dogs’ territory and not surprisingly is attacked because of the territorial nature of these dogs acting in concert (that is as pack). Other questions remain unanswered about this tragic incident. For example, was the driver given any tools by Amazon to defend himself against the dog attack (such as mace, bear spray)? Moreover, reportedly there were no witnesses, so one will never know why the driver did not exit the property immediately after encountering the dogs?

Expert opinion

Tragic incidences like this are likely to recur given the territorial aggressive nature of some dogs, particularly naturally territorial protective breeds like many mastiff-type dogs, German shepherds, many pit bull-type dogs, and even territorial great Danes.

To prevent future incidences a multi-pronged approach has to be taken.

  • First, large companies like Amazon have the responsibility to properly train their delivery personnel in methods of dog bite safety. This includes instructing drivers  to halt deliveries to homes housing potentially dangerous dogs.
  • Next Amazon needs to improve communication to their customers of exactly when a delivery is going to happen. This would give owners notice to secure their dogs.
  • Owners must make reasonable efforts to ensure their dogs do not pose a risk to public safety, whether it be to a Amazon delivery person or and visitor entering or coming near their property. Dog bite attacks on people are often preventable events.
  •  I suspect that Amazon will eventually start using drones to make home deliveries. However ,probably not out of a concern for the safety of their delivery people but rather to boost corporate profits.

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Richard Polsky, Ph.D. is a dog bite expert residing in Los Angeles. He provides expert witness services to attorneys throughout the USA.

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1I reviewed policy documents and training manuals provided to Amazon drivers by the company. I formed the opinion that the company showed little concern in protecting their drivers from dog attacks. The incident in this lawsuit happened in 2019 and settled prior to trial. Amazon’s policies with regard to dog bite safety for their drivers may have a changed since then. Moreover, the corporate culture within Amazon maybe one that stresses profits over the safety and welfare of its  employees. For example, there have been investigations into the long hours and the stressful working conditions Amazon warehouse workers face.
2The two dogs involved were identified as a German Shepherd and English mastiff. However, the accuracy of the breed identification raises questions. For example,  dogs who are not German shepherds look like German shepherds. Hence, the chance for mistaken identity. Likewise so for the English mastiff.